Bristol Green Capital Year
Happy New Year! We’re starting 2015 by bringing you a news roundup of the significant ventures ahead that we’ll be focusing on. Bristol’s year as European Green Capital has begun and citywide the momentum has started to make Bristol a liveable, inspiring, sustainable city for all ages. We saw Green Capital year as a great opportunity to grow and deepen the work we – and hundreds of residents across the city – have already started in streets. Playing Out is one of 32 projects receiving funding under the green capital strategic grant and thanks to this we are expanding our Bristol work in three main areas this year.
We’ll be recruiting and supporting three local playing out ‘area activators’ across the city to build networks within their own neighbourhoods and provide direct help and advice to residents near them. We have already trialled this idea in East Bristol where Angela Smith has been working in this role during 2014. We know how much it helps residents starting to think about making changes in their own streets to have moral support and ‘hands on’ help locally, and this model will provide this for more residents across the city. These ‘activators’ will work closely with us but also develop their own sources of funding to continue their work more independently beyond 2015.
We’ll also be working with residents in three different settings across the city, including tower blocks and low-rise social housing developments. We will be working with residents and very local organisations in key areas of the city with higher levels of deprivation, building on the playing out model to explore how to increase chances for children to play out safely in the spaces around their homes.
Green Capital year gives us a unique opportunity to encourage policy-makers and all those involved in Bristol’s civic life and public spaces to think harder about how to make children’s needs and voices more central. Our vision is for Bristol’s young citizens to have a sense of belonging and freedom in their city and for this right to be accepted and supported in policy and practice. We want to work with others to start making changes that can go beyond 2015, and are keen to pool ideas and energies with others across the city to achieve this.
It’s an ambitious programme of work but an exciting launchpad towards shaping Bristol as a child-friendly city. Do let us know if you are Bristol-based and would like to talk through any of these ideas and get involved.
We’re looking forward to hosting our second ‘Activator Day’ on Saturday 24th January in Bristol. Street play activators from across the UK who are promoting and supporting street play where they live, are coming together for a day where we can all share ideas and learn from each others’ experience. The day will include a session on stewarding and a chance to role-play some of the scenarios that can face stewards when diverting traffic and guiding drivers. People from North Tyneside, Leeds, several London boroughs, Worthing, Herts and elsewhere are all travelling here for the day, with funding from the Department of Health, via Play England. We’ll share learning from this on our website.
By the end of 2014 it really did feel as if streets up and down the UK were coming alive to the sights and sounds of children playing. There are now close to 60 streets in Bristol playing out regularly, 30 in Hackney and many more nationally. We estimate that 160 streets across the UK have started playing out regularly and we know that 36 local authorities are actively promoting street play for their residents. We also know of another 20 councils interested in the idea. Recent local authorities to trial policies and allow residents to apply to open their streets for play include Derby, Glasgow, Greenwich and North Tyneside. Reaching all local authorities will continue to be a joint effort with several organisations lobbying and advising them on the benefits of street play and practical routes to put a policy in place. Playing Out will give advice and support where residents are active, and London Play and Play England are also contacting and influencing councils as part of the national street play project funded by the Department of Health.
January may be bringing wind, rain and gloomy weather but it doesn’t seem to be stopping energetic playing out sessions. Our December blog shared ideas from residents on how to beat the winter dark and light up streets with glow sticks and torches. And members of our Facebook group have been reporting impressive levels of active play and fun …..
One north London street organiser said “I didn’t think I’d be saying this in the depths of winter: but today’s play street was the most enjoyable so far! We counted 13 kids on the road at one point, and over the two hours I think a total of at least 20 kids played out. There was lots of skipping this time (3 kids jumping one rope).”
If you’re on Facebook or thinking of joining, our closed group is a thriving forum for everyone interested in street play to share ideas, experiences and challenges. Do get in touch by email if you want to know more about it or have ideas to share.